Voices From The Readers

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Link Between Diet,

Health Unavoidable

Editor:

We are so grateful for the wonderful event put on by so many enthusiastic volunteers. We were especially grateful for the specific raw vegan meal we asked for ahead of time. We even got sprouts.

Kudos to the chef for making an exceptionally delicious lunch for us to enjoy. As we listened to the speakers praying and asking for a cure for cancer, it was very difficult to watch as all the people around us were consuming the very things that cause and promote cancer, heart disease and a myriad of other illnesses. The mountainous information now available on how our diets have a direct impact on our health is unavoidable.

The growing number of DVDs such as Forks over Knives, Eating, Healing Cancer, Dying to have Known, Fat Sick and Nearly Dead, all point loudly and clearly to not only the horrific toll our eating habits have on our health but our environment as well. They also show the history of how the drug industry managed to get such a firm grip on our medical system in this country.

And, of course, the culprit for any major injustice is always money. So while hundreds of thousands of our loved ones will suffer and die this year that will be of little concern to the drug, meat, dairy and sugar industries.

We know that many of us are linked to one or all of these entities for our own monetary livelihoods. But perhaps this holiday season one of the gifts we can unwrap is our own creative thinking on how we can begin our journey to a brighter future for all. Blessings to all this holiday season.

Jeff and Janet Phillips

Ocean City

 

School Move Explained

Editor:

After the discussion that took place during the public comment portion of the County Council meeting on Dec. 2 regarding the removal of the West Salisbury Elementary School (WSES) project from the Bond Issue, I feel it is important to correct misinformation that was brought forward.

The impression has been given, and is passionately believed by some, that the county government has deferred action on the replacement or upgrade of WSES for many years. Having served on the County Council for the past four years, I was troubled by that assertion since I did not recall any such deferral on the part of the County Executive or the County Council. Nonetheless, having heard testimony from the public and members of the Board of Education (BOE) that this had gone on “for years,” I immediately researched Capital Improvements Plan (CIP) requests from the BOE regarding West Salisbury Elementary School for the past six years.

What I learned about WSES when reviewing the Board of Education’s top 20 priority lists is as follows: 2009 WSES not included; 2010 WSES not included; 2011 WSES not included; 2012 WSES #12 priority, $95,000 for feasibility study: 2013 WSE not included; 2014 WSE #2 priority, $200,000 for initial architecture and engineering; 2015 WSE #8 priority, $24,000 for HVAC study; and 2016 WSE #2 priority, $6.5 million total replacement — first phase of a total $41.9 million project

Interestingly, while the county funded the board’s $24,000 request in FY2015, the State of Maryland rejected the Board of Education’s request for their associated share. I then also reviewed the Nov. 18, 2014 letter from Dr. David R. Lever, Executive Director of Maryland Public School Construction Program, wherein the State indicated it was not prepared to propose funding the WSES request, citing outstanding issues and questions that needed to be resolved.

That history coupled with my discussion with Governor-Elect Hogan regarding the availability of state funding going forward, caused me to come to the conclusion that a fiscally responsible course of action was to pause on committing funding until such times as further facts and developments unfold.

It is important for the public to understand that the CIP is a critically important multi-year planning document. The County Executive and the County Council in their deliberations regarding appropriation of limited funding to cover many needs across the county rely upon departments to have a very clear and consistent forward planning vision. It is difficult for me to understand why a school that had not

been considered a significant priority until 2014 has reached a point two years later, where renovations and improvements cannot be considered, and a complete tear down and replacement is deemed necessary.

I believe that much of the testimony heard at the County Council meeting on Dec. 2 misled the public regarding the county government’s actions and deflected any responsibility for the deteriorating condition of the school, which now may necessitate a complete school replacement, from the BOE.

The administration of the Board of Education as well as appointed members of the Board, both past and present, have had 50 years to monitor WSES and provide needed maintenance and upgrades. At a minimum, the taxpayers have a right to expect that their tax dollars are spent on proper maintenance of our schools. The BOE will argue that there isn’t enough money to go around. To their point, when it comes to spending, it is all about priorities. So it begs the question, why has it taken almost 50 years for the BOE to address the needs of WSES in a significant way?

I understand and appreciate the outrage of the WSES supporters. As I stated at the council Meeting, I visited the school just days before being sworn in to office. Please don’t mistake a postponement of funding as a lack of concern or understanding. I reiterate my promise to have a skilled team evaluate the current condition of WSES and to chart an appropriate course of action.

Bob Culver

(The writer is Wicomico County Executive.)

 

Grateful For Support

Editor:

The James Hastings family wants to thank all who have, in so many ways, supported our family. It has been very much appreciated and a great comfort to us all. Many thanks again.

The Hastings Family

 

School Changes

Endanger Children

Editor:

Ten years ago, on Dec. 15 of 2004, we lost our only son, Brian, to a drug overdose. Brian had high SAT scores in high school, he was an Eagle Scout, a Black Belt in karate, and a nice kid. His mother and I went down to get his electrical engineering degree from the University of Virginia posthumously. The head of the department told me almost tearfully, “Mr. Christ, we are not allowed to call the parents,” in response to my question as to why we weren’t notified when he wasn’t going to class.

Federal laws on privacy ensure that parents will not be told when their children are in trouble after their 18th birthday. The guidance professors used to provide as a matter of course had been eviscerated from colleges and universities. Government privacy requirements attached to funding for higher education for the last 20 years have driven a wedge into what historically had been the domain of the family. Everyone at school knew Brian was not attending class and was partying with different groups daily, except the two people who would have been there 24/7 to do what was needed: Mom and Dad.

When Brian came home for Thanksgiving his senior year, I was concerned and took him to my doctor, a respected physician who had taught at Yale. After Brian died, the doctor apologized, telling me federal HIPAA restrictions on privacy had prevented him from telling me that he had found drugs in Brian’s system at the time Brian was alive. This was precisely the reason I had brought him for a physical. College records we uncovered years after Brian had died documented his secretive drug abuse from his freshman year through his senior year, but federal law had kept us from knowing.

It gets worse. First, what is in loco parentis and why would the government want to eliminate it from our social fabric. “In loco parentis” is Latin for “in the place of the parent”. Socially, it meant that society would provide parenting for children and young adults when needed if parents were not present. It was not a law; it was a social norm. It was just done. Teachers taught and were granted the authority of in loco parentis. It was accepted in all methods of K-12 and higher education, public and private. America was peerless in the world in education for decades, but now we lead the world in-out-of-classroom expense while placing a paltry 25th out of 32 OECD countries in mathematics on the PIAA test. Today the classroom teachers have lost their traditional authority, are managed by program directors that don’t teach, and driven by well-intended federal programs such as Common Core that do nothing to change the decline even while dramatically increasing the costs. Independent of personality or method, the classroom teacher determined and then acted with full authority of the parent. Could the evisceration of adult authority by the federal government explain much of the decline in our public education, the decline in marriage and the dramatic increases in single-parent families?

Fifty years ago, 5% of white families, 16% of blacks, and 7% overall were single-parent. Today, after 50 years of government intervention and numerous entitlement programs that weakened the family, the numbers are horrific: 28% of whites, 54% of Hispanics, 74% of blacks, and 41% overall are in single-parent families, confirming the perverse effects of government programs and the resulting destruction of many families.

Clearly, some kids emerge from the education process and do not suffer our experience, and as a person who has been licensed in insurance I realize the importance of privacy in medical records. But the loss of Brian will be something his Mom and I will take to the grave. The weakening and destruction of the American family as evidenced by increased single-parent families and decline in public-education achievement, along with dramatic increases in family costs and the loss of in loco parentis, have disrupted the nurturing nest which supported our unalienable birthrights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. These changes place the future of our kids in peril and should be of major concern to all parents.

Tony Christ

 

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